Tapas anyone?


I just love this time of year. The warm days and cool nights are a refreshing treat after some of those hot days of summer. However, what I really love about this time of year is the wonderful and abundant array of vegetables available at the farm and farmer’s markets. I get excited about canning some of those lovely vegetables and fruits in preparation for winter: Salsa …done, Peaches…done, Corn…done, applesauce…not yet! I also love experimenting in the kitchen with what’s in season and reminding myself of those recipes that I haven’t wanted to cook because it was just too hot. It is also a great time of year to share the abundance with friends. Picnics are great in the summer, but now it is time to change up the menu and do something different. Why not invite some friends over to enjoy the nice weather and do a tapas party. What are tapas? Tapas are the Spanish way of serving many small, flavorful courses to help satisfy your hunger while preventing overeating. Here are some recipes to get you started. The first two recipes are great served with cut-up vegetables or crackers. Easy finger foods to get the party started! The last recipe is a nice way to round out the meal with something sweet but healthy. The in between courses are left to your imagination. Bon Appétit!


Hiziki Pate

I love this recipe. Cynthia Lair introduced this recipe in my Whole Foods Cooking Class when I was at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. It is a wonderful way to sneak seaweed into your friends diet. Adults and kids alike will love it. Just wait until the end of the party to tell them what is in it!

1 c. Hiziki

1 1/2 c. apple juice

1 tsp. tamari

1/4 c. sesame seeds, toasted, then ground

1/2 pound firm tofu, crumbled with a fork

2 Tbs. light or white miso

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Soak hiziki in water for 5 minutes and chop fine. Put hiziki in a medium-sized pan and add 1 1/2 c. apple juice or less – just enough to completely cover the hiziki. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until all apple juice is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Toward end of cooking time, season hiziki with tamari.

While hiziki is cooking, prepare other ingredients. Sesame seeds can be toasted in a skillet on the stove for several minutes, then ground. Gently mix tofu, sesame seeds, miso, parsley, and scallions together in a bowl. Let the hiziki cool and then add to the mixture. Serve with whole grain crackers, bread, or as a side dish. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.

From: Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair


Lentil-Walnut Spread

3/4 c. lentils, rinsed                                              1 c. finely minced arugula, spinach or watercress

1/4-c. walnut halves                                            3 Tbs. broth

1 Tbs. flax oil or olive                                         1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1 small clove garlic                                              1/8 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine lentils with 1 1/2-c. water and cook until tender and water is absorbed-35-40 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small bowl. In food processor, process walnuts and oil to a smooth paste. With a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into a bowl with lentils. Mash to paste with fork. Mash garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt together and add to lentil mixture along with arugula, broth, cumin, coriander and remaining salt. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 days.


Carob Fudge

This is another recipe that I learned while at school. My friend was requested to bring this to all of our potlucks. People will never know that it is not chocolate.

1 c. honey or brown rice syrup

1 c. natural peanut butter or almond butter

1 c. carob powder

3/4 c. raw sunflower seeds

1/2 c. coconut

1/2 c. walnuts

1/2 c. raisins

Greese an 8” square baking dish. In a large saucepan, heat honey and peanut butter; stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in carob. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in baking dish. Chill at least 3 hours.

Recipe modification: use 1/2 c. tahini and 1/2 c. peanut butter

Kitchen Experiment – Brown Rice Crispy Treats

When I went to school for my masters in nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, I had a great teacher for the class “Cooking with Whole Foods.” It was probably my favorite class out of all the classes that I took because we actually cooked in the class.  It was in this class that I finally learned how to hold a knife to chop vegetables.  It is also where I first had the inspiration to try new recipes and to makeup new ones based on the food I found in the kitchen.  Cynthia Lair was the teacher and when we graduated she published her first cookbook called “Feeding the Whole Family.”  This was and still is one of my most used cookbooks on the shelf.  What I love about this cookbook is that all of the recipes are simple but delicious.

One of these recipes is just what I was looking for when I had a hankering for something sweet. It is not always easy to use an existing recipe because of the limitations of our current rotation diet which is based upon the ALCAT results from our food intolerance testing.  Luckily, I remembered this recipe from Cynthia Lair’s cookbook and couldn’t wait to adapt it to my needs.

rice crispy treats

Brown Rice Crispy Treats.  This is the healthy version of rice crispy treats made without the marshmallows and refined sugar and instead uses brown rice syrup, nut butter and a little oil.  You can add what you like to the recipe to suit your needs and taste.  For my recipe, I substituted sunflower oil for the sesame oil, I used hazelnut and sunflower seed butter that I made in my Vitamix and added sunflower seeds, raisins and cranberries.  These treats are just sweet enough and really hit the spot.

Check out the recipe at the link above and if you are looking for a great cookbook, check out “Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair!